13 July 2007

Space: The Final Frontier

Serendipity Happens: A 48-hour power outage last week set me thinking about food preservation. Without the freezer. Today my feed-reader plunksSharon Astyk's post on Low Energy Food Preservation onto my plate.  Her blog is always interesting, packed with detailed information and deep insight.  Honestly, I don't know how Sharon finds the time for such prolific posting! 

We mostly rely on the freezer for preserving our produce, but then, as last week, you begin to wonder whether an entire Summer's harvest is going to survive and ever-lengthening power failure...  Forgetting the old permaculture principle, were we: Critical functions must be supported by more than one element.  Honestly, it's just too easy to fall into a comfort-zone and stay there.

So we're starting to look at and learn about other ways to preserve food.  The catch, of course, with all this preserving of produce, is that you need somewhere to store it all.  One of the most serious gaps in our original planning was in not providing for sufficient storage space.  Despite having added two small sheds and a garden "cupboard" to our storage, despite using chunks of the 3-car carport for storing bulk chookfood, rotovator, mower, various toolchestsfull of crap, we're still perpetually short of storage space.

Not only do you need somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight to store preserved produce, you also need to store all the empty jars and bottles (and their lids!) until you're ready to fill them up.  And you need lots of them!  Then you need somewhere cool, dark and dry to store self-saved seed; somewhere where labels and containers won't get mixed up.  It's pretty easy for conventional farmers who typically buy-in their seed, and only need to store a few varieties for a short period of time; quite another for a self-sufficient holding, where you regularly keep dozens of plant varieties.

Then there's somewhere to stash tools.  And it's not good enough to just say "tools": There are general small tools -- hammers, pliers, vice grips, screwdrivers, measuring tapes and set squares -- specialised and power tools, plumbing-specific tools, gardening tools large and small, powered and handraulic.  Some are pretty specialised to a self-sufficient setup: I am planning to make an oil-press and a solar-dehydrator, aiming to acquire a flour mill; they'll all need places to live.  Some of these more specialised tools get used only once or twice a year -- the ridging hoe is only needed a few times in Spring.

But they all need safe, dry storage space.  Turns out that the one wendy-house outside the kitchen door is not as dry as we expected it to be.  Result: a lot of hand tools furred in a fine rust needing cleaning.  Trying to be self-sufficient demands a lot more storage area than I expected.

I'm thinking of enclosing a piece of the carport...

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